A million-dollar idea that never makes its way to market is worth quite a bit less than a million dollars. To help product entrepreneurs in southeast Michigan get their innovations into the hands of their customers, the Southfield Centrepolis Accelerator at Lawrence Technological University provides all the resources necessary. And beginning in October, entrepreneurs can interact with the Centrepolis Accelerator in a whole new way.
On October 4, the Centrepolis Accelerator will open a 6,300 square-foot center on the campus of Lawrence Technological University. In addition to coworking desks, gathering spaces, and conference rooms, the center will feature something many accelerators lack.
“We are unique in that we will have a product development and prototyping lab,” says Dan Radomski, director of the Centrepolis Accelerator. “In that lab we will have product design tools, computer-aided design, engineering and analysis, plus the ability to prototype products using traditional metalworking tools to 3D printing machines.”
A state-of-the-art augmented reality/virtual reality studio will help clients conceptualize design and make important changes, which can eliminate time-consuming and costly redesigns of physical products or manufacturing processes.
What else do entrepreneurs need to know about the Centrepolis Accelerator? We’ve gathered five must-know details.
1. The Centrepolis Accelerator is laser focused on manufacturing and commercializing the physical product.
“We are unique in that we provide support in product development as well as business development,” says Radomski. “We are all about getting to manufacturing readiness.”
In short, the Centrepolis Accelerator is the go-to place for anyone who is developing hardware or another physical product using advanced manufacturing technology.
“No one else in the state focuses on that,” says Radomski.
Through hands-on events and programming, businesses can learn valuable lessons for scaling, design thinking, CleanTech, smart hardware, lean design, and more. Experts at the Centrepolis Accelerator can also help startups leverage funding through state and local business development programs.
2. Support is available to service providers, too.
Companies that specialize in product design, engineering, and prototyping can work with the Centrepolis Accelerator, says Radomski. “We want them to design, manufacture, and test their products in the Detroit area and utilize the expertise here to grow their businesses as well as the companies they are helping to build,” he says. “That economic multiplier supports the client and the extended group of product development services in the southeast Michigan area.”
3. The Centrepolis Accelerator isn’t just for startups. Big companies can benefit, too.
“These are the companies that recognize we are nurturing next-generation technology,” Radomski says. A company that is innovating a new automotive battery technology, for example, can prototype, design, and explore manufacturing techniques at the Centrepolis Accelerator.
An additional benefit for the large company working on-site is the opportunity to collide with entrepreneurs in the coworking space to network, collaborate, and spark new ideas and technologies.
4. The Centrepolis Accelerator taps into the wealth of Michigan’s manufacturing expertise – something that exists in very few cities across the country.
“When people speak about our manufacturing strength, they say that this is something Michigan is best at. We are still best-in-class in what I call the product development part of manufacturing,” Radomski says. “The automotive industry drove the discipline into our supply chain and we are best-in-class at it.”
The Centrepolis Accelerator deploys industry expertise in a deliberate way with the innovators it serves. “They don’t know where to go for design, testing, development, and validating, or they don’t have that skill set themselves. We bring that to the client, and where we don’t have the expertise, we get it from the wider industry.”
5. Talent from Lawrence Tech can improve your design and manufacturing processes.
Lawrence Technological University’s engineering focus produces research, labs, faculty, and students that can investigate the latest manufacturing and product technologies available. Radomski offers the example of smart devices. “One of the areas we are an expert in is embedded sensors in automation, and the movement toward smart devices, from the Fit Bit to the autonomous vehicle,” he says.
As part of LTU, the Centrepolis Accelerator is capable of nurturing industry 4.0 technologies that include smart hardware systems. “We’re teaching companies how to pick the right sensors, wireless systems, and custom designs of this technology. Companies interface with our faculty to develop proofs-of-concept of their products and get the students involved, too.”
Find the Centrepolis Accelerator at 21415 Civic Center Drive, in the Southfield City Centre. The Centrepolis Accelerator opens October 4. Public open house is 12-4 p.m.